ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political and Electoral Dynamics in Punjab

Given the political churning taking place in Punjab, the electoral scene may remain quite fl uid until the votes are counted and perhaps even after the results are declared. Nevertheless, the current elections refl ect a clear decline of the earlier hegemonies, particularly of the landed aristocracy of the region, which has controlled state politics over the past fi ve decades or so.

Along with four other states of India, Punjab goes to the polls to elect its new state assembly in February–March 2022. Polls in the state are scheduled for 20 February and the results are expected to be declared on 10 March 2022. Electoral politics in India is always an exciting moment, a time when even the poorest of the poor and the socially invisible begin to count. Even their opinions regarding the state of affairs are sought by desperate reporters from the ever-expanding media outlets. They suddenly become “citizens” and their voices begin to matter, even though nominally. Their votes are sought by candidates and political parties of all hues. As has been often commented, Indian elections become melas (carnivals) where everyone seems charged with excitement and is looking for fun. There are also those who look at them more seriously, as critical moments imbued with hope for political transformation and social change. The current round of state elections is also important because they are being held two years ahead of the parliamentary elections due in 2024. They are like a mid-term appraisal of the national government and its popularity among the Indian electorates.

When compared with the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the largest state of India, which is also going to polls during the same period, Punjab is a much smaller state with only 20 seats in the two houses of Parliament, 13 in the Lok Sabha and seven in the Rajya Sabha. The total seats in its assembly are also much lesser. While UP has 403 assembly constituencies, Punjab has only 117. However, elections in Punjab are no less significant. Punjab occupies an important place in the national imagination. Besides being a part of the border region, the social demographics of Punjab are also very distinct. It is the only state where the Sikhs are a demographic majority. It is also one among those regions of the country which have had a much stronger sense of a distinctive cultural identity and political history. The state has seen a wide variety of social and political movements, from those of the far-left to the militant movement for secession from the Indian union. The most recent of these has been the massive mobilisation by the farmers against the newly enacted farm laws, culminating into a major political challenge for the union government. Punjabi farmers remained at the forefront of this movement during the year-long sit-in on the borders of Delhi.

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Updated On : 28th Feb, 2022
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